Can we Replace Standard College Courses with Social Media?

Last week, USA Today posted an article about a recently released study claiming that college professors are using social media as a tool to enhance instruction and learning.  Within the article, it gives accounts from different educators who are using or have used social media within their college courses.  Some educators and students discuss the benefits (i.e., getting to know all the students), while others discuss issues or drawbacks (i.e., privacy concerns) related to instilling social media into their coursework.  The most interesting outcome was the fact that Pearson Learning Solutions co-authored this study on social media and academics.

The concern with Pearson Learning Solutions is that they, along with others, are leading the charge on education reform (or as believed by some, the privatization of public schools).  Most likely, this push for social media integration into college courses is because Pearson and others are trying to push Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) into public universities.  Unfortunately, this article does not address any data or facts regarding the success of implementing social media (or MOOCs) into college courses.  Due to this, I would claim that this study is no more than hearsay and just a method of implementing Pearson’s desires into public universities.   

The integration of social media into college courses has its benefits but it should be under the discretion of the professor.  Some courses have too many students to keep up with the integration of social media.  This extra workload for a professor might limit the amount of attention that each student gets for his or her assignments, which might affect their grade.  In addition, some professors might not know how to use social media and it might lead to delays or issues throughout the semester.  When studies like this occur, we should not jump into changing policies or implementing industry-wide (i.e., university-wide).  We should open discussions with all stakeholders to find out the best and most effective way to implement changes, if necessary.         

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